Brian Holtz writes
Can someone please cite for me some actual substantive disagreement in this debate? I see the usual dueling abstract characterizations of the LP’s optimal strategy and messaging, but I can’t figure out their cash value. The only thing concrete that I’ve noticed from Starchild is some language from the 1972 Platform — language that M likes and that I like and that I’ll bet was removed by anarchists in 1974 because it said “government intervention […] is properly limited to protection of individual rights”. On the other hand, I disagree with M’s idea that all taxation (even taxes on aggression) should be voluntary — but I wouldn’t have the LP officially disagree with candidates who agree with M, and I doubt M would have the LP officially disagree with me on this point.
That, I think, is the essential difference between big-tent reformers and so-called “radicals”. Radicals want the LP to officially disagree with all principled libertarians whose principles aren’t identical to theirs. Radicals claim it’s “offputting” to them if the LP doesn’t issue a 14,000-word agreement with the details of their anarchist agenda — while hypocritically dismissing the complaints of libertarians whose principles are actually contradicted by some of those details. In other words: anarchists get to complain if the LP doesn’t say nearly everything anarchists believe, but smallarchists have to shut up and smile if they disagree with anything the anarchists make the LP say. And heaven forbid the LP actually say anything the anarchists disagree with.
I don’t think any LP radical has ever even grasped this asymmetry, let alone tried to justify it. The closest they’ve ever come is just to claim that they’re right on every disagreement over libertarian principle, which of course is the fallacy known as begging the question.
I’m actually growing increasingly comfortable with the rhetorical position of LP radicals. Their argument is essentially that the anarchist minority should control the LP’s ideology because anarchists are the most principled kind of Libertarian. This is by its own premise an argument that is extremely unlikely to carry the day, so I guess I shouldn’t complain that the radicals can’t come up with a better argument. 🙂
Additional posts by Mr. Holtz here and here. More.libertarianintelligence.com is an archive of Brian’s comments and is thus not itself open for comment, but you can comment on any of these posts here.
Tom Knapp replies.
That particular alleged asymmetry exists entirely in Holtz’s fevered imagination.
There is, however, an asymmetry built into the Dallas Accord.
The anarchist end of the Dallas Accord is that the Libertarian Party’s official dogma isn’t to be used to demand that the state must, or should, be abolished.
The minarchist end of the Dallas Accord is that the LP’s official dogma isn’t to be used to demand that the state must not, or should not, be abolished.
This does leave anarchists with a somewhat more free doctrinal hand than minarchists:
Anarchists can seek to put the LP on record in favor of the abolition of any particular state function or program without violating the Accord, because the abolition of this or that government function or program (or even any particular set of such functions or programs) does not necessarily imply abolition of the state itself.
Minarchists, however, fall afoul of the Accord if at any point they seek to put the LP on record in favor of retention or expansion of any existing state function or program, or the introduction of any new state function or program, because such retentions, expansions or introductions do necessarily imply retention of the state itself.
I don’t see that this asymmetry is necessarily a bad thing. Anyone care to argue that it is, and why?
There is an active thread on the issue at Kn@ppster, with 31 comments as of this writing.
Tom Knapp and Brian Holtz are both IPR writers, and both have run several times as Libertarian Party candidates and serve(d) on their state party committees.